THE MINISTRY OF THE OBLATE SUPERIOR IN THE SAGUENAY RAPIDLY BECAME A SOCIAL COMMITMENT, A STRUGGLE AGAINST EXPLOITATION AND POVERTY

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Helen Keller

Under Father Honorat, the new Oblate mission in Saguenay took on a particular character.

Norman Séguin writes:

Honorat endeavoured to organize the religious life of the new settlers by creating parishes and building churches and schools.

The society that was developing in Saguenay area with a mixture of agriculture and timber as its base had a strong effect on Honorat. Because of its monopoly of lumbering the Price Company was ensured control of the region. The population, poor and still sparse, was under the domination of Peter McLeod, partner of William Price and chief of operations in the region. McLeod, an unbending advocate of Protestantism, represented in Honorat’s eyes a grave threat to the Catholics there. Moreover, to him McLeod symbolized economic dictatorship, for not only did the company pay employees with vouchers redeemable in goods in its stores, but it also resorted to intimidation to enslave the population. The ministry of the Oblate superior in the Saguenay rapidly became a social commitment, a struggle against exploitation and poverty. (https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/honorat-jean-baptiste/)

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1 Response to THE MINISTRY OF THE OBLATE SUPERIOR IN THE SAGUENAY RAPIDLY BECAME A SOCIAL COMMITMENT, A STRUGGLE AGAINST EXPLOITATION AND POVERTY

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    Honorat in his own particular way called and sent to wear a mantle of social justice, in the same way that he wore his mission cross, taking upon himself the “sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare” as Helen Keller put it.

    I think of Eugene’s words in The Preface: ““We must lead men to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.”

    It is love that allows us then to speak with authority and to say to others “know then your dignity”.
    This is what I am seeing in Honorat as he is “sent out” to the poor labourers in Saguenay. It is not just a matter of which religion he finds there, but how he is being sent to serve the poor.

    What stance do each of us take? Who are the poor we are sent out to? And how do we do it as we stand with Mary at the foot of the cross?
    I think of how Fr. Bordo found a way to serve and did not just wait for the hungry to come to him and his co-workers: he goes out in the night, seeking them out in order to bring them in.

    How is God sending me out today? It may be as small and humble as saying yes to prayer, to spending my time with God and this afternoon, or tomorrow, maybe next week… then will I recognize where/how I am being sent.

    As with Honorat we are not being asked to kill our passion, only to find where and how it will be best served.

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